A ‘city killer’ asteroid is skimming by Earth today. Here’s how to watch

Asteroid vs Earth (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)

A ‘city killer’ asteroid the size of a football pitch will pass by Earth today, its closest approach for hundreds of years.

Officially named 2008 OS7, the giant space rock is around 270 metres across and will zoom past at around 41,000mph.

These stats have earned its title as a city killer, meaning while it wouldn’t be the end of life as we know it if it struck, dinosaur style, it could easily wipe out London or New York.

Luckily in this case, it is still around 1.77 million miles away – so not the closest asteroid we’ve seen, but still exciting if, like us, you’re a big fan of big space rocks.

Although it can’t be seen with the naked eye, if you do want to watch this once-in-a-lifetime event, The Virtual Telescope Project will allow you to see the monster pass through the comfort of your own home by watching below from 6pm tonight.

And be warned, this is the best chance you’ll get, as it won’t fly this close to Earth for another couple of hundred years – at least.

First spotted in 2008, as the name suggests, the asteroid has a highly elliptical, or oval-shaped, orbit. This means it passes Earth at a different distance every time on its 962-day orbit.

Here’s how to watch a ‘city killer’ asteroid buzzing past Earth today (Picture: The Virtual Telescope Project/Gianluca Masi)

The asteroid is dubbed as ‘potentially hazardous’ due to its size and how close it flies past Earth – which is determined if it is at least 140m in diameter and orbits Earth within a distance of about 4.65 million miles.

Nasa has identified around 34,000 near-Earth objects, but suspects there are many more out there. 

Fun facts about Asteroid 2008 OS7

The asteroid orbits the sun every 962 days 

It has an oblong-shaped orbit meaning each time the asteroid approaches the Earth its distance varies

Its next orbit that will pass the Earth will be in July 2037, but it will be 9.7 million miles away from the Earth- not as close as this one! 

Worryingly, some asteroids come from behind the direction of the Sun, including the one that was only spotted 10 days before it passed the Earth in a nearby distance. 

The European Space Agency estimates there could be around a million asteroids as big as 30m to 100m near Earth, with 98.9% of them still undiscovered for this reason. 

Just last week an asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere over Berlin that was detected only three hours before it arrived. Luckily it was only a metre wide, and Nasa hailed its detection system a success.

And in other good news for the continuation of our species, last year, Nasa successfully successfully deployed its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), a planetary defence system designed to knock asteroids off course.

MORE : Tennis-court sized asteroid to just miss Earth – we noticed it 10 days ago

MORE : Why the dinosaurs were ‘already doomed’ before getting smashed by asteroid

MORE : Nasa has finally cracked its way into $1,000,000,000 asteroid sample


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